What Does It Mean To Be Hazmat Certified?

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Hazmat certification is required for a wide range of jobs in many different industries. But it isn’t always clear what hazmat certification is. Let’s take a closer look at what hazmat certified is, and what it means.

What is Hazmat?

“Hazmat” is short for “hazardous materials”. It is a classification of “dangerous goods”: substances that pose a risk to health, safety, property, or the environment. When dangerous substances pose a risk even when they aren’t being transported, they are referred to as “hazardous materials” or hazmat. There are nine basic classes of hazardous materials:

  • Class 1: Explosives
    • This class includes things like ammunition or fireworks, airbag inflators, and other items that may rapidly detonate or conflagrate.
  • Class 2: Gases
    • This class includes things like compressed gases and aerosols, fire extinguishers, natural gas and propane, gas cartridges, and other substances that are gaseous at normal air pressure.
  • Class 3: Flammable liquids
    • This class includes diesel fuel and gasoline, acetone and kerosene, alcohol, and many common paints and adhesives with a flashpoint of 65°C or lower.
  • Class 4: Flammable solids
    • This class includes matches, some metal powders, some batteries, activated carbon, and other self-reactive substances with potentially strong reactions.
  • Class 5: Oxidizing substances
    • This class includes oxygen generators, nitrites and nitrates, and other materials that may have a chemical reaction that creates oxygen and can cause combustion
  • Class 6: Toxic or Infectious substances
    • This class covers a wide range of materials that can cause harm or injury if inhaled, swallowed, or touched. It may include viruses and bacteria, acids and dyes, cyanide or arsenic, medical waste, and some parasites and living organisms.
  • Class 7: Radioactive material
    • This class includes medical isotopes, radioactive ores, depleted uranium, and other radioactive materials.
  • Class 8: Corrosives
    • This class includes acids, batteries, dyes, paints, and other substances that can disintegrate or degrade other materials on contact.
  • Class 9: Miscellaneous hazardous materials
    • This class often includes materials that are transported at extreme temperatures, like dry ice, or environmentally hazardous materials like genetically modified organisms

Hazardous materials may be liquid, solid, gas, or in a combination of states, and may include raw materials or waste materials, and so on. Because there are so many different hazardous materials, and they present so many different dangers, there are a huge range of safety procedures, protective gear, and legal requirements for handling these different substances.

What is Hazmat Training?

Hazmat training teaches people how to handle hazardous materials safely, and also how to respond in case of accident or emergency.

Hazmat training is specialized based on the specific substance (for example, gasoline needs to be handled differently than sulfuric acid), and also on the specific role (for example, a lab scientist handles viruses differently than a waste facility). 

Employers are required by law to make sure that workplaces are safe by training employees on how to safely handle substances that are encountered on that job, and also how to respond to accidents and emergencies.

Employees need to know what substances they are working with, how to work with them safely, how to mitigate workplace hazards, and how to respond to leaks, spills, and accidents.

Hazmat Certified

What Does it Mean to be Hazmat Certified?

Hazmat Certification means that you have successfully completed Hazmat Training specific to your job and the materials you will be exposed to or working with. Some typical jobs that require hazmat certification include:

  • Warehouse manager
  • Logistics manager
  • Parts manager
  • Operations supervisor
  • Logistics coordinator
  • Truck driver
  • Terminal manager
  • Production manager
  • Shipping manager
  • Paramedic
  • Freight forwarder
  • Shipping and receiving manager
  • Transportation supervisor
  • Distribution center manager
  • Air export agent
  • Chemical operator
  • Environmental compliance specialist

In other words, most jobs in shipping and transport, chemicals and science, health and safety, environment, waste management, and more, require some degree of hazmat certification.

In most cases, it is the responsibility of the employer to provide hazmat training to relevant employees. However, already having a hazmat certification of your own can help you qualify for better jobs or stand out from other candidates.

How to Become Hazmat Certified

Hazmat training is usually arranged and facilitated by the employer, because it is specific to each industry and job description. Employers are required to offer hazmat training in order to remain in compliance with workplace safety standards.

However, some people (notably people working in shipping and transport), can choose to become hazmat certified on their own, in order to qualify for different jobs and roles. For example, commercial truck drivers can opt for hazmat training, pass a written test, and receive a hazmat endorsement on their commercial driver license.

Each state has different requirements for different levels of hazmat training and certification, so it is important to review your state’s regulations and guidelines to determine whether voluntary hazmat training is right for you, and how to get hazmat certification.

Hazmat certification means that employees have received the necessary information to deal with hazardous substances in the workplace. It may include training on the correct use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), emergency procedures, and the best way to remain safe when working with the specific hazardous materials you may be exposed to.

When working with, disposing of, or transporting hazardous substances, hazmat certification is the best way to ensure your own safety, and the safety of the workplace and the environment. 

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